At Clearview, we have many different types of opportunities for people interested in working with us, and frequently find ourselves discussing the merits and drawbacks of consulting work with candidates. Our number one goal is to find the best solution for our clients; at times, that may mean supporting their staffing needs with full-time hires, consultants, or a combination. Since most everyone is familiar with permanent placements, we have limited this discussion to consulting: if it is right for you, and, if so, how to be successful. Here are five things to consider.
Pay & Benefits
Pay rates can vary significantly on consulting engagements. There are times when a specific skill set is necessary, and you will be paid a premium for your experience. There are also times when you may be asked to work on a project that does not fully utilize your skillset and is paid at a lower rate but may be something you enjoy doing. Ultimately, you need to decide what you can afford to accept as an hourly rate. For example, if you are paid as a W-2 contractor, your employer will be paying part of your payroll tax; as a 1099 contractor, you will be responsible for 100% of your taxes. So, it is important is to understand how you will be paid (W-2, 1099) and what benefits may or may not be included. Then you can determine what contractual rate works best for you.
Assuming you are able to pay your bills and maintain your standard of living, the next question is how the decision to work as an independent contractor may impact your career. We believe consulting can positively impact both your resume and your career. You may learn a different skillset, get exposure to a new industry, expand your network, and, as a result, become more valuable from the experience.
We often hear this is the greatest benefit or working as a consultant. You determine which assignment you work on and when. You negotiate the compensation. And you determine if you want to take longer periods of time off between assignments.
This is the biggest concern that most finance and accounting professionals bring up. Once you get comfortable with the pay & benefits, what you are working on, and who you are working with, the question is – what happens next? There can be uncertainty in the length of the consulting engagement and if it will be extended or converted to a full-time role. One critical element of being successful as a consultant is the ability to be able to deal with ambiguity. The more comfortable you are with not knowing exactly what will happen next, the more long-term success you will have as a consultant.
Communication & Networking
It is important to communicate with both the company that placed you and the company you are working with to understand when the contract may end so there are no surprises on either side. It’s essential for everyone involved to understand what your plans are, what you are looking for next, and that you will likely need to start the process of looking for new consulting engagements while working.
If you take ownership of the process by communicating, networking, and understanding there may be down time between assignments, then consulting may be for you.